Saturday, February 04, 2023 | Rajab 12, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Capturing the essence of Oman

Oman in Photography, a conference looking at a scenographic experience through the lens of Omani and French photographers, looked at photography as tool of art.


The conference was organized by the French Embassy in the Sultanate of Oman, Museum of Fine Arts Lyon and National Museum of Oman as part of the ongoing cross-exhibition, ‘Fragrant Journeys’ being held at Bayt Greiza until May 7, 2023.


The French photographer, Ferrante Ferranti is currently on a mission in Oman for the French Embassy to shoot Omani landscapes and archaeological sites in order to contextualise the cradle of the Omani artefacts in the space dedicated to the exhibition in Lyon starting in May 2023 highlighting the stenography connections between multiple forms of art and questioning how modern photography can be implemented in an exhibition dedicated to antiquity.


Ferranti’s photographical project will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon in France starting May 2023 and later at the National Museum of Oman in 2024.


He gave glimpses of Oman that would go along with Museum display of Omani artefacts, which would be launched by the National Museum at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon.


He has already travelled to Qalhat, Al Jabal Al Akhdhar, Bahla, Al Hamra and Nizwa and will continue his journey. He is working with Dr Genevieve Galliano, Chief Curator at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon.


“Qalhat was one of the main ports and proving that was the finding of Chinese ceramics,” Ferranti pointed out.


The photographer shared his insights about capturing the essence of Oman and its artistic and technical portrayal in Photography.


Ferranti, a travelling photographer, has worked in illustrating texts by famous writers such as Dominique Fernandez and Andrea Makine. He has conducted several photography workshops in France and abroad.


At Qalhat he was recollecting the text of Marco Polo who had described Qalhat in his writing.


His photography of Al Jabal Al Akhdhar also looks at structure, lifestyle and people.


He said ruins make us ask, ‘Why?’


“Why did people abandon the instrument of life? What made them move away? Gardens are equally important,” he explained.


Showing a photograph of an oasis he explained, “Here we can see how nature could find its own place in the rocks.”


He said landscapes of Al Hamra helped in understanding elevations through the strong houses.


“I am interested in living in darkness and small windows and how much it would have helped in letting the light in,” he described while looking at old houses of the interior of Oman. In the current session he has also visited Bahla and said he was amazed at Jabreen Castle.


“Everything need not be new. It is nice to see the renovations. Old forts are so impressive and Nizwa fort was remarkable. It also adds to the geographic context,” he noted.


Ferranti culminated the photos of four days with the image of sunset in the dunes enjoying solitude. He will continue to travel for few more days to wrap up his mission in Oman.


During the conference the Omani photographer, Reem al Shaikh, specialising in abstract fine arts, shared the successive steps of her path, the drive behind her work that led her to the photographer she is today, and how her identity built her art and how it reflects her interest from figuration to abstraction.


For their part, photographers Mahmoud al Zadjali and Israa al Balushi represented by the Stal Gallery in Muscat talked about their experience of being young photographers in the Sultanate of Oman, and their missions towards youth. They also presented the objectives of the professional photographers in Oman and their role to represent the Sultanate of Oman in an international dimension.


The conference was accompanied by a mini-exhibition of eight artworks selected by the artists for an inclusive experience of the audience.


The conference helped the public to understand the scope of the art of photography in the region, its challenges, needs and prospects. Building bridges between French and Omani photographers works, reputed and emerging, the conference raised the questions of identity, memory and legacy.


The ‘Fragrant Journeys’ exhibition presents 23 artefacts from the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon, and highlights the frankincense and incense routes during the most prominent eras dating back to the Pharaonic era all the way to the avant-garde art. Those include a masterpiece of glazed pottery by the international artist Pablo Picasso, which is the first time a work by this international artist is displayed in Oman.


The conference was sponsored by Amouage, Givaudan, Veolia, Khimji Ramdas, JCDecaux, Lalique France and Oman Air.


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